With the recent news that Chevy Chase - who plays one of the main characters on NBC's "Community" - may not be coming back should there be a fourth season, it got me thinking how much the show would change if it lost one of its main characters.
Now I've heard that Chase is a notoriously difficult person to work with, but he plays a fairly large role in the chemistry of the show as a semi-likeable villain, and I hope he and the powers-that-be can work something out should the show get picked up for next year.
That being said, if I had to pick a character to remove from the show, it would be Chase's Pierce Hawthorne. Every show, no matter how much we love it, always has a character or two that we wouldn't shed a tear - or we might even cheer - should they ever go to their room and never come back (which actually happened to a character on "Family Matters").
On the other hand, some shows are never quite the same when a key character leaves, as the dynamic of the show changes, and not for the better. Some actors, and subsequently, their characters, are just too good to lose and the show cannot recover.
Here are a few characters I could have done without or would have begged to stay:
"The West Wing" - "The West Wing" actually has examples of both instances. In the first season, I could have done without Mandy Hampton, a rival advisor brought in. She never really fit in with the dynamic of the show, and ended up just being a shrill, whiny character by the end of the season. Obviously, the showrunners agreed, because she disappears at the end of season 1 with no explanation as to where she went. On the other side of the coin, when Sam Seaborn (Rob Lowe's character) departs in season 4, the show lost a bit of its flair. Seaborn was one of the major moral compasses of the show, and while I liked his replacement, it just wasn't "The West Wing" without him (the show also absolutely never recovered from show creator and main writer Aaron Sorkin leaving after season 4, but that's a story for another column).
"Scrubs" - This is perhaps my all-time favorite show, but that doesn't mean I didn't have problems with it throughout its run. The main quibble I had was with the character of J.D.'s baby mama, Kim. My apologies to Elizabeth Banks fans, but whenever she's in a scene, it's like fingernails on a chalkboard, and her motivation throughout seasons 5-8 seem to shift from episode to episode. Rewrite the character (and get a different actress for her) and I think the show would not have slumped a bit through some of the later seasons.
"Newsradio" - A great mid-'90s sitcom that never really got its due respect or viewership, "Newsradio" was hilarious with just enough heart to make you care quite a bit about the characters. Its strength was in its strong ensemble cast, filled with people like Dave Foley, Maura Tierney, Stephen Root and Phil Hartman. However, the ensemble didn't seem complete after the death of Hartman at the end of season 4, and the show didn't last long with Jon Lovitz in his place. While the show still was pretty good, and had some fantastic moments (much like what "The Office" is going through this season without Steve Carell), it just couldn't stay consistent without Hartman as its anchor.
There are certainly others, but those three are my heavy hitters. Let me know which characters you would axe off your favorite shows at firstname.lastname@example.org.